Sumi, a shade of charcoal grey that comes from Japanese calligraphy, served as the inspiration for fashion designer Issey Miyake’s new Kyoto boutique, which opened last weekend. It was designed by longtime collaborator Naoto Fukasawa, the product designer best-known for helping shape many of MUJI’s minimal products. And together, they’ve created a shop that is discreet, elegant and may very well consist of 50 shades of grey.
The new shop is nestled along the small Yanaginobanba-dori street in Kyoto’s Sanjo neighborhood. It sits inside a 132-year old machiya, or townhouse, and has been beautifully renovated. The façade, which has remained largely intact, conceals most of the interior except for light that passes through the dark latticed wood. In fact, the only place where any sign appears is in the corner of the noren curtain, where the minimal logo appears.
Kyoto, for its plentiful supply of historic townhouses, has become a popular destination for brands. From cheese tarts to kimono’s and even coffee, whatever it is you’re selling, a Kyoto machiya will make it shine. But one of the reasons that Miyake chose this particular townhouse was because it included a courtyard and kura, a storage facility that historically was used to house things like grain and sake. This kura has been turned into a gallery space that will host several revolving exhibitions each year. The inaugural show features another one of Miyake’s long-time collaborators: the late graphic designer Ikko Tanaka.